Monday, September 11, 2006

9-11 Thoughts From Prof. Long

9-11 Thoughts From Prof. Long. This was a sort of an e-mail back and forth by QUSL's favorite free thinking teacher, Prof. Long. Some of his responses to comments, here:

The commentator writes, "While I agree with many of your comments, to voice those strong opinions in connection with the 9/11 anniversary observance is totally out of place. You have taken one of the saddest days in American history and turned it into an opportunity to get on your political soapbox. There are more appropriate times and places." Considering the fact that my emial is dated 9/7, four days before the 9/11 anniversay, how I improperly "taken" the day? Moreover, when would have been a proper time to comment? A week before or after 9/11/07? A month before or after 9/11/06? Isn't the proper time to comment when people are beginning to think about what 9/11 meant or means?

The commentator continues, "Furthermore, your characterization of 9/11 as a "relatively small" tragedy is a distortion of the truth. Simply comparing the number of dead resulting from 9/11 to other horrific events in world history does not make the attacks on New York and Washington any less grotesque." Any less grotesque than it is? Certainly not. But just as I do not mean to suggest that it does not hurt when someone steps on your toes, I know that having someone step on ones toes is a relatively minor hurt compared to someone hacking off one's foot. And I do mean to suggest that, relatively speaking, 9/11 is more like having one's toes stepped on, while the other events I mentioned are more like having one's foot hacked off.

Yet the commentator suggests that it is not the number of bodies, it is the motivational-context that it important. "Al-qaeda committed an unprecedented act of terror, caused massive loss of human life and in the process destroyed one of the symbols of America." If dropping the A-bombs, first on one city and then another, is not an "unprecedented act of terror, caus[ing] massive loss of human life" than nothing is. One can rationalize it if one wants, and maybe it is in fact justified. But do not engage in the intellectual dishonesty of not labeling the use of the A-bombs as acts of terror, and do not deny that it was primarily civilians (worst yet from our American values, women, children, the elderly) who literally took the hit. Another aspect of my point, the part you completely ignore, is that there is the other side of an event. I am quite certain that the Japanese who lost family and friends viewed the bombings as tragic ends to the war. As to "in the process destroy[ing] one of the symbols of America," you got that right,partly. The WTC were a symbol less of America, and more of Western financial power. That was what was attacked. But guess what, Western finance is still sprinting along, viewing 9/11 as a minor event. Remember at the end of 'All Quiet on the Western Front' the antihero is killed by a bullet in the head, and the days report reads 'all quit on the western front.' In short, a soldier is dead yet nothing important has happenned. Perhaps it is sad to say, though there were personal losses on 9/11, in the grander scheme nothing really important happened.

By the way, why are not more people taking the time to remembere the Oklahome City Bombing? Is it perhaps the bombing was committed by an American, which might force us to think about ourselves in a less than positive light.

Hard questions. Still, they need to be asked . . and answered.

1 Comments:

Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

After reading the entire e-mail conversation, I decided it was time to respond.

Some of us forgot what we saw on that 9/11. We forget the stories we heard, we forget the images on TV or for New Yorkers/D.C.ers, the images they saw in person, and we forget the feelings that we felt. We don't forget because we have no interest or we don't care, in fact, it's the exact opposite. We forget because the events did affect us. We forget because we don't ever want to remember what we saw. Today is one of few days where the average American will even think about what happened and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

There are some, however, that think about 9/11 everyday, because they see 9/11 as the catalyst to everything going on in the world today, much like Professor Long. It's fair to think that way, but at the same time, thoughts like that distort the true meaning of 9/11, and it's true effects.

I find it disgraceful that Prof. Long calls 9/11 "a step on the toes", just because the body count was only 4 figures. I agree with the commentator when he says 9/11 was more than just a body count, because in reality, it is. First of all, thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers/D.C.ers witnessed the events first hand. They didn't just see it on TV. They saw it with their own eyes, they heard the sounds, the smelled the smoke. Not only that, but they were the closest. They have to deal with questions like, "what if I was there that morning", and that can seriously prey on one's mindset. New York is also a melting pot of people who moved there from other places and tourists, imagine what relatives of these people dealt with, as communications from New York were almost completely down. Personally I know how that feels, having 3 sisters who live in New York. I feel it even more knowing one of those sisters was at the WTC earlier in the morning. And what about the millions of Americans who shed a tear on 9/11 because fellow Americans, nay, fellow human beings, were murdered without reason? You don't cry when people step on your toes, rather, you cry when you're cut, you cry when you bleed, you cry when you feel true pain.

Long also compares 9/11 to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. These events are all tragedies, but in they are tragedies in different contexts. 9/11 is an American tragedy, and many other nations would call it so. Some Middle Eastern nations, or to be more fair, Middle Eastern people, see 9/11 as a victory. To agree with such a sentiment is not only unpatriotic, it's downright in humane. Japanese people, on the other hand, certainly see Nagasaki and Hiroshima as a tragedy, and I'm sure there are plenty of Americans today who see the dropping of the a-bomb as tragic, but I would argue that current nuclear events are the forces behind that. When the bombs were dropped though, Japan was our enemy. Japan attacked the United States, they drew us into WWII. Japan was far from innocent. In time of war, you can't stop to ask questions like "whose side are you on" to civillians. War isn't like sports, where you root for the Yankees without actually being on the team. If Japan attacks us, than you must assume all Japanese agreed. That's why today in America, there is such a strong anti-war sentiment. Millions of Americans don't want to be seen as the enemy. Unfortunately for us, the people we are at war with see us as an enemy regardless of what we say. That's why 9/11 happened in the first place. I'm getting off topic, but my main point is that if you can't see that 9/11 is tragic, than you not only have no American pride, but you also have lost some of your human element.

Finally, a note on the OK City bombing. As a nation, we should care more about honoring the people who died in that attack. We don't "ignore" it because we don't want to look at ourselves in a less positive light though. I believe we forget because the bomber was American, and because his message was one that nobody really fears. 9/11 was a statement from a group of people in a different part of the world. It wasn't a crazed American, it was somebody else attacking America. We don't fear domestic groups the way we fear other parts of the world.

1:10 PM  

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